But after crossing over into motherhood, the 30-year-old beauty has her sights set on making her name shine in the spotlight that others covet so tough. With her role as a part of the Assorted Flavors with Elise Neal and a reality show in the works, Ms. Zena Foster joins the ranks of Beauty & Brains alumni thatís set to continue to make an impact in the game.
As she sits down with us for this exclusive interview, Ms. Foster talks about her move from St. Louis to the city of Lost Angels, why sheíll never be a crumper and what made R&B heartthrob Tank stand out from all of the rest.
Beauty & Brains: So, your name is ZenaÖ? Like the ďWarrior PrincessĒÖ?
Zena Foster: No, her's is spelled differently than mines. Hers is with an ĎX.í [Laughs]
B&B: Whatís the difference between you and your TV counterpart?
ZF: You know what? I shouldíve watched that show, but I never really got into it. I would say that weíre more similar than we would be different. Iím not as tall as her. Iíd probably look like her daughter. But I would say that weíre both heroic. Iím a tough girl.
B&B: How does your personality work within the entertainment business?
ZF: Iím very strong-minded. Iím very business like. I can adapt to pretty much any environment. I really get along with everyone. Iím not too sure of her [Xena the Warrior Princess] personality traits so I donít know. Iím a real people person. I was brought up that way. My peoples wouldnít have it any less.
B&B: Where are you from again?
ZF: Iím from St. Louis!
B&B: All they got out there is clubs, rightÖ and Nelly fans?
ZF: [Laughs] Itís more than just clubs. Itís only wack to those whoíre not from there. If you really get into St. Louis, youíd see that it is a very homey, family place to live at. Back home, my family all have houses on the same street. Weíre very close together, so it makes it easy to go to everyoneís crib during the holidays.
B&B: So, you left your family to go to the west coast? Is there time to be such a homebody there?
ZF: Oh, yeah, most definitely there is time to be a homebody! [Laughs] L.A. is a lazy town, you know! It only works whenever you want it to work. But, on the real, everyone enjoys what they do because the weather is so lovely. I know I do! Ever since moving there, I donít believe that Iíve worked a day in my life. I think the only thing that bugs me are those early morning calls to come in for shoots and set calls, but I love what I do, so itís really not that big of an issue.
B&B: What was one of the first things you realized when you moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles?
ZF: I would have to say that one of the first things I began to notice when moving here were the personalities within the people that I was meeting and being introduced to. You have a lot of people here who love to name drop and they always got something going on. Thatís stereotypical Los Angeles.
B&B: What was one of your first experiences where you noticed that in play?
ZF: My first job was terrible. Scratch that Ė it was cool, I liked it, but the set-up was terrible. I was working on the set of Noreagaís ďOh, NoĒ video and Fatima [Robinson] was the choreographer for it. We went to a desert in Nevada to film. [Laughs] There was a sandstorm in the desert. What made it worst was that it was me and 50 other women on set! I never saw nothing like it before. I thought that that howís videos were made. My friend, who was there, kept me cool, but I wasnít having it at all.
B&B: You wasnít going to leave, were you?
ZF: Ah, no! But I did think that I was about to go and get a regular job [laughs] Ė that mess wasnít worth it. [Laughs] I was surprised that there were so many girls in the video. It was funny that one of the girls on set seemed to have an attitude. I was in the changing room and I had met this particular lady and we talked, but I was trying to switch rooms with my girlfriend so we could be together, because I knew her. She thought that I was acting funny, I wasnít, I just didnít know anybody. Later on in the day, I still felt that she had an attitude about the situation, but you know whatÖ?
ZF: Weíre the best of friends now.
B&B: Howíd that happen?
ZF: We got to be really cool during the Christina Aguiliera ďWhat A Girl WantsĒ video shoot. I was a dancer in that videoÖ
B&B: You started off as a dancer, right? Most girls who are in music videos are dancers of some sort Ė what type of dancing was your specialty?
ZF: My specialty was Hip Hop and Jazz. Now, itís mostly hip hop because I think Iíve lost my Jazz ability. Out here in California, Hip Hop dancing is primarily the one they want you to have in these auditions.
B&B: Youíre not a crumperÖ?
ZF: I donít crump. [Laughs] That came after my time and is really hard on your body. Youíre literally throwing your back outÖ and I canít do that. [Laughs] I like to be sexy and cute when I dance. I canít be mean mugging for the camera [laughs]. Just call me when you need a leading lady.
B&B: I heard that the ďthingĒ about industry people in California was that theyíre very two-faced. Is that true?
ZF: I think some people are. Iíve heard a lot of experiences from other people, but thank God I havenít had a lot of that happen to me. Iíve lived here for about nine years and I warn people about that when theyíre fresh in the industry. I left my family back home in St. Louis to move out here [California] and I just want new people to be cautious around their new surroundings. You just donít know anybody when you first arrive, reallyÖ Someone tries to befriend you and you canít really listen to everyone. Iím just glad that I have my set friends around me who have my back.
B&B: How hard is that to be away from your family?
ZF: Itís really hard now, especially since Iíve started my own family. Itís difficult. Family really matters to me.
B&B: How does it feel to be a mother?
ZF: Itís the best thing in the world. I love it. I had the best Motherís Day ever.
B&B: So, how can you navigate this business without falling for those traps?
ZF: I feel like you can tell when someone is telling the truth. Itís very easy to learn about people in L.A. The industry is so small. The world is so small, but L.A. is smaller. All you have to do is ask. Hell, Google someone and you can find out everything about them. Iím telling you, but maybe itís me, Iíve prayed about my situation, but Iíve never had any bad situations and anyone who says that they would do it, theyíve done it. I havenít had anyone lie to me; Iíve been very blessed in that category.
B&B: On your site, you talked about the work you were doing with Chris Robinson. How did/is that going?
ZF: I love Chris. Heís a sweetheart. Heís one of the best directors to ever work with. Our first job together was doing one of those videos that I canít remember. I worked with him on the Tank video as a choreographer and one other video, but I donít know which one was first. [Laughs]
B&B: Chris is known for his originality and tastefulness with presentation. What were a few things that you learned working with him that should be emphasized in videos like 50 Centís ďCandy Shop.Ē
ZF: Chris and Jesse, to me, work similar. Chris is not one of those directors who just sits around. His shot schedule is always on point. His shit is always together. Heís very professional. He makes use of the time and money on set. Itís not a party all day on the set. Jesse works the same way with me. When youíre done, youíre done. Itís not a waste of time with them both. Iíve been comfortable with the set environment. Sometimes you have artists who, not even with the director, let things slide. Neither one of them play that role. They donít get involved in that type of shit. Sometimes, directors will let stuff happen, just to let it. With Chris definitely, it has never been an uncomfortable situation. They let their entourage and that is within the directorís control. It has always been very well-managed.
B&B: You also danced on tour, right?
ZF: I did the Scream V tour with Sammie about a year and a half ago. Iíve been on the road with Keith Sweat, heís so old school and I love him. [Laughs] Iíve been on the road with Donnell Jones, Brian McKnight and Christina Aguiliera.
B&B: Usually celebrities are charming through being honed over years of being in the business. What made Tank different than anyone else you met?
ZF: We were friends for a long time. Weíd get cool during the rehearsals for his video. We both just moved to L.A. and we maintained the friendship. I was in a relationship when we first met and he was as well. At the very beginning, we never really datedÖ
B&B: ÖI had spoken to him awhile ago and he said that wanted to have enough kids to fill a soccer teamÖ
ZF: He wants a lot of them. Iím not mad at that. When we were together, we planned to have a lot of kids. We got one together.
B&B: So, when he was wooing youÖ did he play ďSlowlyĒÖ?
ZF: [Laughs] No.
B&B: You donít give baby mama drama, do you?
ZF: No, I donít have any drama. I can never hate on him because heís still a good guy. I love his voice, I love his songs. Heís very blessed.
B&B: It seems like you donít play no games, just straight business, Ms. Foster, but youíre on Damon Wayans Presents: The Undaground. So, are you more so a Gemini than a Libra?
ZF: [Laughs] I have evil ways about me, I just donít let them get out. I donít know what I be thinking. You know how you think of something and it was just wrong, but I donít ever take it to the extreme. I have never been that type of person. When Iím in a relationship, Iím good.
B&B: All in all, youíve made a lot of good concrete moves in this business. Whatís next for you?
ZF: Right now, itís crazy, I feel like Iím busier now that I have a newborn baby than before I was pregnant. I am working on the new Wayans Brothers movie called Snowflake. I am part of an ad campaign. We go around to different TV shows and hair shows. I am a part of a group called Assorted Flavors. Itís an urban Pussycat Dolls with Elise Neal. Itís more about the sex appeal and performance of it all. Last summer, we did a show every Wednesday in L.A. Weíre hosting a party for an awards week. It may be around the BET Awards, but Iím not sure. Weíre working on a reality show, too.
Are you feeling Zena Fosterís moves? If so, be sure to check her out at www.zenafoster.com.